Friday, February 27, 2009
There are a few things which have brought me to a 1905 - 1910 date. It would have been easy to set a date if I had documentary evidence of a circus coming to Annapolis Royal around this time. Sadly, there was nothing in the archives or the local newspaper abstracts referring to a circus at this time. When there is no documentation, the next thing to do is analyze the image itself.
Now, what in the picture would allow for a 1905 - 1910 date? The buildings in the background on the right side of the picture were destroyed in the 1920 fire. This gives us an excellent end date for when the photograph could have been taken. If the houses were burned in 1920, the picture was logically taken before that time. In the center of the picture are a few faded electrical poles. This provides another clue as electricity came to Annapolis Royal in 1905. This provides a start date for the photograph. A further clue is the clothing worn in the picture. These clothes, especially the ladies, are closer to the styles seen in 1900 than 1920. So, between these elements and a bit of guess work, I can estimate that the photograph was taken between 1905 and 1910.
As for the photograph itself, the image shows elephants walking past the old Annapolis Royal Post Office. They are marching toward the railyard which was located where the Farmers' Market is currently found. As with many of our archival documents, I would love to know more about this one. I would especially like to know which circus was in town.
All for now,
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The first two images in this post were taken yesterday evening. The remainder are a random collection of Annapolis Royal sunset shots that I have taken.
All for now,
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
By legend, Thomas Peters was born to a noble family in western Africa some time around 1738. During his youth western Africa was in turmoil due to the slave trade. Men, women and children were being captured, marched cross country and loaded onto ships bound for America. These ships, where vermin, suffering, disease and death were common, were among the most horrific places imaginable. As with so many others, this was the reality for a young Thomas Peters. Although it is just speculation, we can assume that when he arrived in America Peters was sold at the slave markets in Charleston, South Carolina. This is likely as the first written record for Peters occurs in 1776 when he is recorded as a 38 year old slave of William Campbell of nearby Wilmington, North Carolina.
In 1775 Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia had issued a decree whereby any slave leaving their rebel (American) owner would be granted their freedom if they fought for the British. In November 1776, Thomas Peters answered this call and joined the British black regiment known as the Black Pioneers. Peters was eventually advanced to the rank of Sergeant. In 1779 Peters met a woman named Sally who had also joined the Black Pioneers. Thomas and Sally were married later that year.
As with many other Blacks, the Peters had arrived in New York by 1782. It is here that they waited for transport to British lands after the War of Independence ended. After first going to Bermuda, they arrived in Annapolis Royal in May of 1784. Peters quickly took up residence in Brindley Town which is located near Digby. The Black Loyalists of Annapolis County (Digby County had not yet been created) met with many of the same hardships as Black Loyalists in Birchtown. Unequal distribution of rations and unequal treatment by the authorities were again problems. Competing claims for land grants also led to conditions where the Black settlers could not hope to support themselves. In 1785, Peters moved to Saint John, New Brunswick in an attempt to secure land. This was as unsuccessful as his earlier attempts. This begins a period where Peters petitions the Colonial administration for the land that the Black Loyalists were entitled to.
By 1790, Peters had unsuccessfully petitioned the Crown five times. In a growing state of frustration, Peters was given the power of attorney by hundreds of Blacks in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. With this in hand, he proceeded to London, England where he was to petition the Crown directly. On his arrival Peters met the English abolitionist Granville Sharpe. It is through Sharpe that Peters was eventually able to make his presentation to the secretary of state for the Home Department, Henry Dundas. Dundas was presented with documents outlining the ill treatment of the Black Loyalists as well as their inability to acquire land. As a result of these discussions combined with previous work by the Sierra Leone Company, the government agreed to pay for the cost of transporting Black Loyalists to Sierra Leone.
This seems like another natural break in the story. We are getting closer to the long awaited return to Africa. The next installment will deal with the efforts to recruit settlers in Nova Scotia to re-establish a recently destroyed colony in Sierra Leone. I have borrowed today's image from the Black Loyalists: Our History Our People website.
All for now,
Monday, February 23, 2009
While Annapolis Royal does sit in the valley between the North and South Mountains, neither of these geological formations are renowned for their current skiing opportunities. In fact, many visitors from Alberta and British Columbia get a good laugh that we refer to these formations as mountains. More than once I have heard the sarcastic question, "Is the mountain somewhere behind that small hill?" It is for this reason that visitors have trouble believing that there was a ski factory here.
To understand why Annapolis Royal was a logical location, you must consider the type of skiing that was done in the mid to late 1930s. While skiing is an ancient activity in Scandinavia, it is a relative newcomer in North America. By the 1930s, the sport had a following in some areas but it was not a common activity. Downhill skiing, as it is understood today, did not evolve until the capacity for mechanical uphill transportation was developed. In the 1930s, if you wanted to ski down a hill, you first needed to ski up that same hill. In fact, the hills surrounding Annapolis Royal would provide ample opportunities for this sort of skiing. For these reasons, the skis, which have similarities to both downhill and cross country skis, could logically be made in an area with modest hills and without a long history of skiing.
Established in 1932, the business operated under both the Canada Ski Company name as well as Canada Ski and Wood Ltd. The wood for the skis came from local birch trees but hickory and ash logs were also shipped to Annapolis Royal from the southern American states by train. The factory managed to stay in business locally until 1940 when they moved to Montreal.
The Canada Ski Company's skis are actually excellent examples of the type of skis made in the mid 1930s. The tip of the ski has a small wooden block. This block was used to attach a clamp the skis when they were not in use. This clamp would ensure that the ski would not lose its curve or camber. This block disappears on skis made in the 1940s. Like earlier skis, the foot is still attached to the ski using a leather strap. When attached, the heel was still free to move around unlike modern downhill skis or modern cross country skis which attach only at the toe.
All for now,
Friday, February 20, 2009
4 quarts of tomatoes sliced at night
add a little salt
seal tomatoes in vinegar in the morning
add 1 cup sugar
onions and spices
Today's image is another random one from my collections. This was taken before the production of our Tales From A Tiny Perfect Town performance of 5 Stab Wounds in the Governor in October 2007.
All for now,
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I felt that I should also dig into the Annapolis Heritage Society archives to produce some proof that we have had worse winters. The winter of 1888 may be the worst on record. That year the waters of the Annapolis Basin not only froze solid, they froze to a thickness of 17 inches (43 cm). For those of you unfamiliar with the Annapolis Basin, I should stress that having the water freeze solid is a very uncommon occurrence. While the water may freeze temporarily, it is unusual for this ice to survive the next tide. Since we have about 30 feet (just over 9 meters) of tide in Annapolis Royal, the turbulence of the moving water rarely allows for a solid ice pack. The top image, taken in 1888, is of the Annapolis Royal waterfront as seen from Granville Ferry. Note the two boys and a dog standing in the middle of the ice pack.
In 1888 the Basin did indeed freeze. The ice was so thick that the steam ship Azorian was frozen solid for four weeks. During this time, the ship had its cargo of coal unloaded and a new cargo of apples loaded. All of these goods were sledded over the ice to the waiting ship with the help of teams of oxen.
All for now,
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
A few years ago the AHS was given enough coopering tools that I could have gone into the business of making barrels. These tools come from a cooperage owned by the Rafuse family in the eastern part of Annapolis County. I was happy to accept these tools as coopering is a trade that interests me. In the mid nineteenth century, coopers were the most common trade in Canada. Barrels were used for shipping and storing a huge variety of goods. Today. with the advent of plastics, the only places that coopers are found are vineyards and historic village museums. I must admit that it makes me sad to see a skill of this sort passing into history.
I was lucky enough to spend the day with one of the coopers at Ross Farm Museum a few years ago. Even though we were working with pre-cut staves, I was astonished at the number of intricate steps it takes to make a barrel. From gathering the staves and winding the windlass to heating and heading the barrel, this is a complicated process.
I have included images of three artifacts in this post. The first is a croze plane. This plane is used to both ensure that the top of the barrel is level and, when you flip it over, to cut a groove so that the barrel head can be inserted. The second artifact is a hoop driver. As its name suggests, this is the tool used to drive the wooden hoops which support the barrel into place. By looking closely you can see the wearing on the end where the hoop driver has been hammered. The final tool is a cooper's adze. This was the all porpose hammer and adze around the cooperage. Note how short the handle is so the cooper can work inside the barrel.
All for now,
Sunday, February 15, 2009
On Friday night, there were a couple of historical presentations at ARTsPLACE in Annapolis Royal. The first presentation was by Sherry Griffin of the Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum. Sherry, was speaking on her new book Middleton: History From the Heart. Sherry gave a very engaging speech about the history of Middleton and was able to share some archival pictures of the community.
Our second speaker on Friday was the aforementioned Alan Melanson. Alan was discussing the creation of the Fort Anne Heritage Tapestry. The tapestry, a project to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Annapolis Royal, was the idea of Dr. Barry Moody. The tapestry consists of four panels which measure 8 feet X 4 feet (2.4 meters X 1.2 meters). Each of these panels pictorally represents one of the past four centuries. Alan discussed how complicated of a process it was to complete the tapestry and the massive volunteer effort which went into its creation.
Today at Fort Anne, we are privileged to have a section of a heritage tapestry being created by our sister community Annapolis, Maryland. This tapestry is being created to celebrate the 300th anniversary of that community. We have been invited to place a few stitches in a section which depicts the four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence. I must admit that my irony sensors were going off when I realized that this particular section had arrived in Nova Scotia. This is after all one of the destinations for those who chose to stay loyal to the British Crown. No matter, I am happy to have the opportunity to contribute to Annapolis, Maryland's anniversary and I will gladly make my stitch. To keep the irony going, perhaps I will sew while while humming Rule Britannia.
All for now,
Friday, February 13, 2009
Tomorrow, at the Experience Digby Annapolis Tourism Showcase we are going to be unveiling our new blog. Since I am going to be busy working at the event, (wearing my Loyalist period costume no less) I am posting a link to the site tonight. So, without further ado, I am happy to present the Attractions Annapolis blog.
Our image today is another somewhat random picture. This one is of three local ladies in costume at North Hills Museum last summer.
All for now,
Thursday, February 12, 2009
To tie this image to current events, one of the recent developments in the local tourism scene is the advent of bouldering. This activity, which is related to rock climbing, usually sees the climber working without a rope on rock faces somewhat larger than this one. The South Mountain in Annapolis County is apparently an excellent location for this sort of activity.
All for now,
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
For the benefit of those who do not live in Annapolis Royal, the Officers' Quarters are the museum building at the Fort. It is in this building that both the 1621 Royal Charter of Nova Scotia and the Fort Anne Heritage Tapestry are displayed. The building was built in 1797 on the orders of Prince Edward who was then serving as Commander in Chief of the British forces in Nova Scotia. With its three tall chimneys and gambrel roof, this building is an architectural icon in Annapolis Royal.
All for now,
Monday, February 9, 2009
Historically, the tides would have played a role in the lives of more people in our community. The first mention of our tides is when Champdore, Captian of one of the French vessels to arrive at Port Royal has trouble negotiating the currents of the Digby Gut and runs his pinnace on the rocks. This incident leads the french to build a new pinnace which has been called the first European ship built in the New World.
Later on, a knowledge of the tides would have been essential for those making their living from the fishing or shipping trades. Safe navigation was always of the utmost importance. Loading or unloading of ships could often only happen when the tides were high. For large vessels, upriver ports like Bear River or Bridgetown could only be accessed on high tides.
There are also various stories like that of the barque Annapolis which, for a couple of days, refused to be launched. When the blocks were split out on October 29, 1873, the barque slipped onto the greased launchway but refused to move. The 1000 people in attendance went home disapointed since the Annapolis did not move before the tide became too low for a safe launch. Another failed attempt the next day was followed by the ship only moving 60 feet on November 1st. Days were spent worrying and working. Finally, on November 5th the ship was successfully launched.
These images were taken earlier today from the front of the O'Dell House Museum. They were taken about 6 hours apart. In the bottom image the water is not even touching the Annapolis Royal wharf. If anyone is interested in reading more about the Bay of Fundy, my friend Terri has a wonderful resource in her Bay of Fundy Blog.
All for now,
Saturday, February 7, 2009
One of the things I find very appealing about this book is that the recipes were prepared in this very building. Fannie O'Dell lived in the O'Dell House long before it was a museum. If I were here 130 years ago, I could walk downstairs and hope to find something as exciting as today's gingerbread recipe served for dinner. As gingerbread is a personal favorite, I still to find some when I walk downstairs. Sadly my chances are pretty slim today.
Since I really do not have an appropriate image to go with this post, I thought that I would choose something randomly from my files. This image is of the Port Royal 400th Anniversary Society's float at the 2005 Natal Day parade in Annapolis Royal. In the middle of February it is nice to think of a warm August day in Annapolis Royal.
1 1/2 cup butter
1 pint mollasses
1 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoon cream tartar
2 cups flour
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
All for now,
Friday, February 6, 2009
Today's post brings us a little bit outside of my normal boundaries in the western part of Annapolis County. In fact, I am going all the way to the other end of the county and our neighbouring community of Middleton. It is in Middleton that we find Old Holy Trinity Anglican Church which was opened in 1791. This charming little church sits in a grove of oak trees and is surrounded by a cemetery.
Land for the church was acquired by the Parish of Wilmot in a grant by Governor John Parr. Construction of the church began in 1789 under the direction of Rev. John Wiswall who served the Church of England's Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG). As an irrelevant side note, the SPG is possibly my favorite organization names. Legend has it that Rev. Wiswall even did much of the physical work during the construction of the church. Thanks to his work and determination, Rev. Wiswall was named the first Rector of the church. Although the steeple was not finished until 1797, the church was finished enough to allow for services in 1791. This church, like many of its 18th century contemporaries is no longer used as an active house of worship but it is used for various special services.
The building itself is a simple white structure clad in clapboard. The most striking feature of this church is the large wooden keystone window at the back of the structure. I have seen a very interesting presentation given by Troy Wood who did the conservation work for this window. All of the panes were removed and numbered while the wooden muntin bars were repaired. When he finished all of the panes went back into their original locations.
The interior of the church has been hardly changed since the building was finished. The original pulpit and box pews are still in place. It is striking how the simplicity of this building.
There is a large graveyard surrounding the church. This graveyard, which actually continues on the opposite side of the road as well, contains some of the earliest tombstones in Annapolis County. Since this continues as one of the main cemeteries in Middleton, it is interesting to wander around an see the changes in the styles and materials used for tombstones over the last 250 years.
All for now,
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Essentially, the writer was complaining that the term Black Loyalist was not appropriate as few members of this group were actually loyal to the British Crown. These people were using the British as a way to escape slavery so they were decidedly more interested in freedom than loyalty to the Crown. As these people were refugees, it was his feeling that the use of ther term Loyalist was more to fit Canadian historical ideals than to accurately represent this group.
So, this begs the question, were the Black Loyalists loyal to the British Crown. Except in a very few cases the answer would undoubtedly be no. These were people using the British as a means to escape slavery. Unlike some of the other Loyalists, these were not people who decided for idealogical reasons that they wanted to stay loyal to the British. Many Black Loyalists did fight with the British but this was due to offers of freedom for their services. Even more telling, when given the opportunity to return to Africa, many of the Black Loyalists chose to leave Nova Scotia for Sierra Leone.
The next question, what should this group be called? Nova Scotian author and poet George Elliot Clarke has coined the term Africadian, a clever combination of African and Acadian (for those who do not know, Acadians were the French population who have lived in Nova Scotia since the early seventeenth century). While I do like this term, it is not really appropriate for the generation who arrived in the 1780s. It does not provide much context for their struggles. So, I will encourage any discussion that people would like to have about the Black Loyalists and what they should be called. As a warning, while this discussion is taking place, I will probably use the term Black Loyalists just so people have an idea of who I am writing about.
I have used today's image before but, Rose Fortune is such an icon of the Black Loyalists in Annapolis Royal and Nova Scotia that she deserves to be seen as often as possible.
All for now,
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
From tapestries, crafts and guest speakers to tourism, snowshoeing and love,
“We are very excited that we have been able to bring together a variety of events to celebrate Heritage Weekend” said
The launch for the weekend will take place at ARTsPLACE on February 13 starting at . This evening will feature presentations by Sherry Griffin, author of “Middleton: History from the Heart” and Alan Melanson, President of the Historical Association of Annapolis Royal. Mr. Melanson’s presentation on the Fort Anne Heritage Tapestry will lead into an opportunity for local residents to place a stitch in a tapestry being created for our sister community of
Events on Valentine’s Day, February 14, include the Experience Digby – Annapolis Tourism Showcase at Champlain Hall in
On Sunday the 15th, the O’Dell House Museum will have a public viewing of its newly acquired Harris Family Portraits from . You can hear the interesting story of how these paintings from the 1840s were saved from being sold out of province. This will also be the last chance to see the exhibit “HildaJane’s Quilts”.
All for now,
Monday, February 2, 2009
Our archival image today is also in keeping with a winter theme. Skating has always been a popular activity in Canadian communities and Annapolis Royal is no different. This photograph, taken about 1900, depicts the well dressed interior of Annapolis Royal's first skating rink. Interestingly, the building had an upstairs promenade which can be seen in the background. The rink was lit with oil lamps hung on chandeliers from the ceiling. This facility, built by George E. Corbitt in 1882, was also used as an exhibition hall and venue for band concerts. The first rink was destroyed in 1905.
A replacement rink was built by politician and millionaire Frank JD Barnjum in 1922. The story told by locals is that the rink was built by Barnjum as a way to get elected to the legislature. It must have worked because he was elected in 1925 but as a member for Queen's County not Annapolis.
Unfortunately, this is not a scene which would be possible in Annapolis Royal today. Since our most recent rink was burned, we have not had an indoor skating facility. For the skating enthusiast, the pond at the French Basin does freeze thick enough to allow for a few days of outdoor skating each year.
All for now,